AT this time of year it is usual to take stock of the months we have left behind and think about our aims for the year which is about to begin. And so, while wishing you a very happy holiday, I would like to share some reflections with you all.

I am aware that there are still many problems to be solved. There are many concerns about situations in which we have the responsibility to take action, to guarantee our quality of life and try to solve the difficulties of each and every one of the citizens of the Balearics, of all those who have chosen our Community to live or work here.

I sincerely believe that nobody today, beyond the confines of party politics, doubts the fact that the general situation has changed after the past 30 months of government.

The tendency of the economy has been inverted. One very significant fact is that after five years, we are once again creating jobs in sufficient number to reduce the unemployment figures in the Balearics.

Today there is an autonomous government which, for better or worse, governs; which takes decisions to try to solve problems, in some cases historical ones, and the effort put into amenities -- roads, trains, energy, water treatment -- demonstrates this.

Today there is an air of stability and understanding, both within and outside institutions, which is a motivation to work to resolve the problems.
In this sense, we are carrying out the most important investment in our history in hospitals, schools, university and in social infrastructures in general. We are building a dozen specialised centres for Alzheimer's patients, the disabled or those who suffer degenerative diseases among others; ten residences for the elderly and 16 day centres. In addition to this, the new hospitals of Inca, Formentera, the expansion of those of Ibiza, Minorca and the new Son Dureta will improve our health network considerably.

The opening of four schools and four colleges this year, and eight primary schools, an institute and the Conservatory of Music and Dance of Ibiza and Formentera next year, are some of the actions which, together, show the most ambitious effort in the history of democracy to improve our basic services.

However, as I mentioned earlier, there are still many themes outstanding.
While it is certain that we have recovered the figures of tourists and we are once again creating wealth, it is also true that our objective to hold the leading places in Spain for job creation, as happened some time ago, is still a long way off.

We need to continue recovering from the historical deficit in roads, hospitals, schools, transport....
The problems of air transport have not been solved, neither between the islands, nor with the Peninsula, especially in Minorca and Ibiza, where it is most urgent. We have done everything within our power, but each time we have come up against the lack of decision by the Spanish government.

We continue suffering the double or triple insularity which affects the cost of living and the conditions in which our industry and agriculture must compete, but once again, our demands to the central administration fail to find sensitivity as an answer.

And all this, moreover, conditioned by the biggest increase in population in Spain. The population of the Balearic Islands has increased by 25 per cent in just four years, with the consequences in the form of demands and needs which this scenario provokes.

It is fundamental to manage to prevent the risks which this process of integration can carry with it. Because we have been emigrants, we know what it means to leave one's home to undertake the adventrue, always difficult, to try to build a better future in a strange land.

The people of the Balearic Islands are characterised by being hospitable, receptive to diverse sensibilities and cultures. It has been like this historically and we want it to continue being so.

This year has brought very painful events in places which are close to us geographically and culturally. I refer to the violent events in France which are a warning for all consciences.

We do not want new arrivals to think of the Balearic Islands as a strange land.
The recent creation in the Balearic government of a ministry of immigration and cooperation is an effort to put within the reach of all those who have been obliged to emigrate the necessary resources so that they can build a better future for themselves.

And we should do this while saving our way of being and doing things, with respect for our customs and traditions, setting the foundations to improve our quality of life.

That is why it is so important to provide the conditions which guarantee the correct financing of all the services which our citizens demand.
We find ourselves immersed, like other autonomous Spanish regions, in the process of revising our Autonomy Statute, the text which, together with the Constitution, is the legal framework regulating our coexistence.

The result of the reforms can be none other than a greater equality for citizens, independent of the autonomous community in which they live.
It is an equality which should begin by the financial resources of which each community, each regional government can dispose to attend the needs of its citizens, educational, health, transport needs, the needs for homes for pensioners or for the disabled, as well as having competitive firms and jobs for all. Needs, in short, which form part of the references which determine the level of progress and wellbeing of our society.

That is why the year we are starting should be the year of financing the Balearic Islands. It is a fundamental question, of extreme importance. The system of financing should be contemplated either in the Autonomy Statute or outside it, but we will not accept being less than the others.

Without finance, without money to solve our problems, without sufficient resources to attend to the needs of the residents, there is no autonomy, no home rule.

Hence the importance of future negotiations.
We have always been distinguished, and we feel proud of this, as being the most solidary community in Spain. And this is only possible by respecting the rules of the Constitutional game and making equality and solidarity the values for progress in autonomy which will never be given up.

It is an important challenge in the face of which I invite you to work, all together, in the name of the wellbeing and progress of our society.
And with this wish, I should like to take advantage of so special a moment as this to offer my best desires for happiness and prosperity for this coming year.

Molts d'anys a tothom! (Traditional Majorcan greeting, Long Life to All!)


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